When a person gets seriously injured in a car accident, becoming permanently disfigured or dying as a result of his injuries, his spouse and family also suffer indirectly. The losses suffered by a person’s spouse or children as a result of the person losing the ability to engage in activities he once could cannot always be properly measured. However, the law allows for some members of the family of a seriously injured or deceased person to seek damages for the loss they suffer.
The spouse or children of a person who is seriously injured in a car accident may usually seek compensation for loss of consortium from the person or company that is responsible. Parents can also seek damages for the loss of filial consortium when their minor children are injured through the negligent actions of another person.
Loss of consortium, which is sometimes referred to as loss of companionship, refers to the loss suffered when the injured person can no longer offer affection, comfort, companionship, fellowship, society, and assistance to his spouse and children. For a spousal claim of loss of consortium, the claim includes the loss of a sexual relationship that is caused by the injured person’s injuries.
As with other claims in a personal injury lawsuit, a person seeking damages for loss of consortium has to sufficiently prove that the loss of the injured person’s companionship or ability to assist with marital or parental duties is attributable to the injuries suffered. The spouse seeking loss of consortium damages also has to prove that he or she was legally married to the injured spouse at the time of the accident. If the couple was engaged at the time of the accident, and got married after the accident causing the injuries, a claim for loss of consortium will not be sustained. Similarly, any children seeking damages for loss of parental consortium must have been born before the injuries to the injured parent.
A claim for loss of consortium is a separate claim that can be raised even if the injured person decides to settle the case and not go to trial. However, the claim is still connected to the underlying claim of negligence by the injured person. If the underlying claim cannot be proven, that is, the defendant is not proven to be negligent for whatever reason, then the claim for loss of consortium fails as well. Practically speaking, if the underlying personal injury claim is resolved by settlement, the loss of consortium is resolved in the same way.
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If your spouse was injured in a car accident and suffered permanent injuries as a result, you may have a claim for the loss of consortium you have suffered. Your children may also have a claim for the loss of parental consortium. Damages for loss of consortium can assist you and your family cope with the changes to your family. For more information on how we can help, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida for a free consultation.